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Police Bureau continues with traffic safety education missions at Broadway/Flint

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 1st, 2008 at 10:44 am

bike stop markings at broadway flint-3.jpg
Broadway and Flint.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As part of an ongoing effort, the Portland Police Bureau's Traffic Division is performing a series of "traffic safety educational missions" at the intersection of Broadway and Flint.

Traffic Division Captain Larry O'Dea says his officers are conducting the missions during morning commute hours every day this week. According to O'Dea, the missions are being done in conjunction with the first round of changes made by PDOT (the "Bikes Stop" markings installed last week).

In an email sent by O'Dea this morning, he described the PPB's efforts as,

"part of our cooperative effort in increasing awareness, improving traffic control device compliance, and improving safety in this challenging area."

He also released their results from yesterday (9/30). According to O'Dea, two officers gave out 18 warnings -- 17 of them to bicycle operators and one to a motor vehicle operator.

In case you're wondering why this number is so much lower than last time the PPB did a mission at this intersection (53 bike operators were stopped back in July), O'Dea says it's because he only has two officers at the location this week, while they had "a bunch" of officers in July.

O'Dea also told me that this morning officers are reporting much better compliance than yesterday.

I'll do an update at the end of the week, with final tallies and thoughts from Capt. O'Dea.

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  • bahueh October 1, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I"m guessing "compliance" only comes when an officer is sitting on his motorcycle next to the sign...

    no officer, much less "compliance"...

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  • Vance October 1, 2008 at 11:16 am

    What's the number folks? Thousands of automobile fatalities annually in the United States? Ya, better deploy punitive, tiresome, "missions", to knock a few cyclists in line. I guess one way to look at it is that negative attention is better than no attention at all. Sheesh. I've said it before, I'll say it again, sure wish my tax-contribution was being spent feeding, and housing some folks. Metaphorically speaking of course. If I had priorities like this, I'd be a broke loser. Oh, wait...

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  • jeff October 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

    i wonder how many tickets/warnings they could have issued if they looked another 50 feet up the hill at all the cars rolling the highway exit ramp stop sign onto broadway?

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  • Lenny Anderson October 1, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Police should be focused on motor vehicles that fail to stop when exiting I-5, that exceed the speed limit on Broadway and that fail to yield on right turns to Wheeler. That is the problem here, not bicyclists failing to stop. I am sick and tired of this paternalistic waste of PPB resources. I see motor vehicles routinely running red lights all over town putting thousands of other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at risk, and PPB spends its time trying to save us bicyclists from ourselves? Please.

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  • Opus the Poet October 1, 2008 at 11:32 am

    How about a few tickets (at least) for drivers that turn right and run over cyclist(s) before mass ticketing against cyclists that roll through stop signs? Can we get at least one, please? And the one that A.o. got earlier this year doesn't count, it wasn't issued by LEO at the site of the crime.

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  • Velo Vanguard October 1, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Public tax money well spent, if you hate bicyclists...LOL.

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  • peejay October 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    So, back at Traffic University a few years ago*, they planted fresh grass in the two quads on campus. And they were concerned that the students didn't turn the quads into a muddy pit again, like last year. Now, at the quad surrounded by the School of law put up shiny new "keep off the grass" signs, but the quad surrounded by classrooms of the Engineering school put up a little rope barrier. Both features were ignored, and the students rushing between classes just ignored the signs and barriers and kept going in their direct routes, right through the grass.

    The Law school administrators decided to append their signs with this little nugget: "violators will be fined." Well, most of the students continued to ignore the signs, and kept on walking on the grass. Some of them were worried about the penalties they could incur, so they walked around the quad, taking more time than they had between classes, and often wound up late for their next class. The professors, tired with all this tardiness, started taking attendance, and threatened to penalize the grades of the late students. Faced with the prospect of lower grades, the students who were following the rule stopped doing so when they realized that none of their classmates who did walk on the grass were being fined anything. The Law School responded by hiring a couple of staff members to police the quad, and get the names of the offending students, and issue fines. The students objected, saying they weren't going to pay any fines unless they had their say. So a student tribunal was set up to deal with these "hearings." Eventually, a professor was caught, and claimed immunity from this tribunal. The students in charge of the tribunal sued to have professors included in the law, and the professor counter-sued, costing the school many millions in legal fees. While all that was happening, the grass in the quad had turned into a muddy mess from all the people who continued to disobey the signs.

    Meanwhile, over at the Engineering School, when they realized their little rope wasn't functioning, the administrators said: it's not working. What can we do differently? After some trial and error, they came up with a system of paved paths through the quad, planted some trees and hedges that directed people into naturally taking those paths, and lengthened the time between classes so that no student was late. The grass thrived, as did the students.

    *This whole story is made up, if you're super gullible and want to call me a liar. But you have to ask yourself: what do we want to be more like: the first school or the second? And what are we more like now?

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  • Greg S October 1, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I commute everyday and my route takes me through this intersection. I saw the motocops there this morning. This is a dangerous spot. Cyclists need to stop, determine if cars are turning right down the next street, then go. It's not much of a delay. I've seen several accidents b v. c and it's just not worth the risk.
    Plus we need to keep the respect of motorists, by showing we follow the law.

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  • Zaphod October 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I understand the frustration in that spending resources here is perhaps less valuable than going after far more dangerous auto violations.

    But nevermind the law for a moment, blowing that sign during the morning commute is EXTREMELY dangerous when I go. There is a constant stream of cyclists rolling downhill in the bike lane with some velocity. Someone blazing through the stop going on the assumption that it's safe because no cars ever intersect the path could cause a serious accident. Not only is there the immediate collision of two bikes, one naturally going fairly fast but then you now have two bikers lying in the road. It's easy to paint a series of high probability events that causes a fatality as cars & trucks are only a few feet away with gravity induced speeding.

    While I respect fighting laws that are really not appropriate (stopping in a roundabout i.e. Ladds) or the Idaho 4 way stop/yield law... why there's even a debate on a feeder road stop heading into a high volume arterial seems to weaken our position overall.

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  • whyat October 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Gotta agree with Zaphod. We're not riding nerf mobiles. Should a person who commits assault with a knife not be arrested because an assault with a gun would have been 'more' dangerous? I witnessed a biker last week blow a stop on Clinton and cause the car with the right of way to almost careen into a group of pedestrians. You can cry all day about how unfair this all is, but as more bikers appear on our streets and more drivers have close calls, there are only going to be more of these kinds of operations. The best way to reduce them is to have the bike community create, as a whole, a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior. Since that is never going to happen get used to this type of operation. Go to a car enthusiast board and read about drivers getting caught in speed traps. Their reactions are very similar to the ones above...

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  • Lenny Anderson October 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Clearly Flint/Broadway is poorly engineered if it causes bicyclists to hit bicyclists. Widen the bike lane on Broadway and put a barrier between the bike lane and the motorized vehicle lane to allow a safe merge of two streams of bicyclists. No more unnecessary stops.

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  • toddistic October 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    i stop because i dont want a ticket, partly because i'd probably be ticketed for not stopping and for riding brakeless!

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  • PdxMark October 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    #11>>> "Clearly Flint/Broadway is poorly engineered if it causes bicyclists to hit bicyclists. Widen the bike lane on Broadway and put a barrier between the bike lane and the motorized vehicle lane to allow a safe merge of two streams of bicyclists."

    Or just stop at the sign and the bike-bike and bike-car conflicts cease. Bike-bike conflicts can occur anywhere cyclists are turning onto a downward sloping street or bike lane. That doesn't make those intersections "poorly engineered." It just means a cyclist needs to yield the right of way to someone else who is already on the street.

    Classifying the engineering behind this intersection by the ability to roll through it on a bike at ALL times is unrealistic, at the least. Sharing the road applies to all road users, car-bike, bike-car and bike-bike. We don't need a $100,000-$200,000, or more, rebuild of this intersection to spare some of us cyclists the indignity of a stop. Just stop at the sign. It's not that hard.

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  • rsh October 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    If you get a ticket for blowing a stop sign, then you deserve it. The fault lies with you for breaking a law and not the police for giving you a ticket. Suck it up and take responsibility for your actions on the road.

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  • Bob_M October 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    On my ride home yesterday I was keying in on drivers on cell phones. Distracted driving is an offense that kills people. but not an offense that receives citations. Where is justice?

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  • N October 1, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    There is a big difference between "blowing" a stop sign and slowing down, seeing that it's clear, and rolling through. Most of the pro-enforcement comments are talking about "blowing" stop signs. It doesn't matter how much you educate people or try to enforce the law, there are certain people in any group (bikes, cars, naked roller bladers) who will blow stop signs. The PPD isn't making any difference in the problem of the tiny percentage of people who blow a stop sign every so often. They're going after people on silly technicalities (were you actually stopped? did you stop long enough, etc). I have seen more problems/close calls at this intersection due to cyclists and motorists making mistakes (not signaling, not looking, bad judgement on speed or distance). As far as cyclist/cyclist close calls and collisions go, the majority I've witnessed at this location were due to a cyclist pulling out onto broadway from a stopped (foot down) position right in front of another on-coming cyclist (bad decision, slow start, couldn't get foot back into pedal, whatever). This intersection is poorly designed and tickets from the PPD won't help. They're ticketing the wrong people. I roll through that stop every day, unless there is a cop there of course, and I've never had a close call that didn't involve a right hook from a car who hadn't signaled or looked. This is because I slow down, look to see if it is clear, and proceed. It's not that hard. Couldn't the cops be working on solving murders, robberies, busting meth labs, or kiddie porn rings. No I guess they'll get to that when they know without a doubt that all two wheelers will come to a complete stop at every intersection in Portland. Start holding your breathe everybody..

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  • peejay October 1, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    The point is that if there were some magic formula that we could spray on people to make 100% compliance of the stop sign, it'd still be a very dangerous intersection. Stop thinking forcing compliance is going to fix every problem.

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  • a.O October 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    "If you get a ticket for blowing a stop sign, then you deserve it."

    I think it's a popular misconception that anyone disagrees with this. I definitely agree.

    The issue is that, when you have limited enforcement resources and more violations than you could ever possibly cite, do you focus on the violations that are most likely to hurt or kill other people, or do you just randomly hand out tickets?

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  • Anonymous October 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I'm actually fine with these missions, kinda flattered really that they care about us. The only thing is, this morning riding in the fog, I found myself in a dangerous situation because a motorcycle cop was parked right in the green bike lane just before the bridge, and was standing in the lane talking to a cyclist. I barely had enough room to ride between the cop and the cyclist... the only other option would have been to swerve around the cop into the heavy traffic lane. Ironic really that their 'safety education mission' directly put me in danger.

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  • peejay October 1, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    a.O.:

    Mostly, I agree with your comment, because if you don't see an enforcement sting right in front of you, you're not paying enough attention to your surroundings to be riding safely. That said, yes, there are plenty of people who get ticketed at stings for doing perfectly safe - and probably perfectly legal - actions, while at the same time foolish and unsafe users of the road go right by, because they either didn't get noticed, or were doing an unsafe act that the police were not keying in on or had an ordinance to cite for.

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  • Matthew Denton October 1, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    #7: peejay

    I went to that school. One of the buildings was under construction along one side of the quad my Freshman year and they used the quad as a staging area, so the quad was fenced off and full of construction equipment, so they moved the sidewalks so that all sidewalks took you to the far side and around, and everything was fine. They finished construction my sophomore year, and the sidewalks went back to being a box, even though actually most of us wanted to go diagonally. Final semester of my senior year, they put in a diagonal sidewalk. Never mind that the head of the Civil Engineering Department actually told them, a week after they finished construction, (and the grass was already dieing on the diagonal,) that they should do a diagonal, it took more than two years...

    Fortunately, there was no law school on campus, just some grounds people that didn't like dead grass, and some design people that didn't want to mess up the symmetry by having one diagonal. (They could have put in another, but nobody actually wanted to go the other way.)

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  • Blair October 1, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Stopping is fun! Weeeee!

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  • TS October 1, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    At my school, an alumni set up a fund to be used for the construction of sidewalks at the school. The rule was, however, that no sidewalk should be built using those finds until there was already a worn (dirt) path in that place. It was an ingenious way to make sure the sidewalks were useful and actually got used.

    Peejay says:
    > After some trial and error, they came
    > up with a system of paved paths
    > through the quad, planted some trees
    > and hedges that directed people into
    > naturally taking those paths, and
    > lengthened the time between classes so
    > that no student was late.

    Now that's great, and everyone will agree we should be like the engineering school, but what exactly IS the bikes-in-Portland analog to "system of paved paths," "planted some trees," and "lengthened the time between classes"?

    What is the solution that's going to keep the grass from turning into a mud pit here?

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  • Opus the Poet October 1, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I can't say exactly what could be done as engineering solutions to the problem, but I still don't like scarce enforcement resources being wasted giving cyclists tickets for failing to come to a complete stop when so many car drivers do the same thing and end up rolling over cyclists.

    Or why not ticket people who have already had a wreck and killed or injured a cyclist by breaking traffic laws? The LEO is already on scene, so it's not like they would have to do a sting or anything, all they would have to do is write the ticket... Or would that be too much like work? >:[

    Opus

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  • dgc October 1, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Kind of unrelated, but not really. Riding north on NE 7th two days ago at 5:30 am. Heading up the hill after stopping at the red light on NE Prescott (always stop on a red light). Ready to ride through the NE Going St. intersection when WHOOSH!! I have to swerve real hard to miss an unlit cyclist/bike running the stop sign. Cyclist has the head down, buds in the ears, and didn’t even know I passed just a few feet in front. “WHEW!” I said, under my breath (actually, I said something else), “That was close!!”

    I ride east on Broadway through the Flint intersection almost daily – at least 140 times this year - between 3 and 4:30 pm, depending on when I leave work. This time is not bicycle rush hour here. During three of those 140 times I’ve almost been T-boned by a cyclist not stopping at this intersection. Not a car. Not a motorcycle. Not a truck. A cyclist. In one of the instances, cyclist had the head down, buds in the ears, didn’t even know I was behind them after I grabbed all my brakes and nearly skidded into the path of traffic bearing up my backside.

    I applaud the police action. If you’re not going obey the law, you get a citation and pay a fine. If you think dollars are wasted on these endeavors to remind cyclists to obey the laws, please come to my house and explain to my wife and children why I may not come home one night because you are way more important than all the rest of society and don’t need to comply with the rules and laws of society.

    To me this is simple. Stop at the red signs and red lights. Obey the traffic laws. Cyclists ARE TRAFFIC.

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  • peejay October 1, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    dgc:

    What exactly is your idea about getting the clueless dicks to obey certain traffic laws that they clearly have no intention in obeying?

    I look at intersections that do not function for normal people, and think how they can be made better. Enforcement is a really bad tool for that.

    The 1%ers who disregard even their own safety to ride the way you described - well, enforcement doesn't do much on them either. Why? Because cops never catch those jerks.

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  • Kernal Loose Nut October 2, 2008 at 1:20 am

    i detest stop signs. They were created by automobiles. Bikes should yield, not stop; it's kinetic LAW. i weary under the number of people posting who are willing to bend over and take continued second class road citizenship and sting enforcement of unjust law.

    moses

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  • Tim October 2, 2008 at 4:43 am

    kernal loose nut

    Geez. Are you really that out of shape. I ride every day and pull a heavy trailer about half of my miles and I stop at every stop sign. Its not that hard.

    I hope the Portland Police keep up the good work.

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  • Lenny Anderson October 2, 2008 at 8:58 am

    These PPB "safety missions" actually make things worse for bicyclists...in additonal to keeping an eye out for cars, trucks, other bikes, peds, etc. we have to keep an eye out for the cops as well...a potentially deadly distraction.
    Expecting bicyclists to stop at every sign is silly...not even most motorists do that. Stop sign or no, I slow at every intersection as it is very risky to expect a motor vehicle to stop just because they have the stop sign. Even traffic lights cannot be trusted...I am sure everyone is stopped before proceeding.
    Blindly running stop signs and signals on a bike maybe reflects some kind of "under 30" death wish or defiance...just be glad they are doing it on a bike and not in a motorized vehicle. They are, for the most part, a threat only unto themselves.

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  • snowshoe October 2, 2008 at 9:10 am

    this intersection is on my daily ride, and i have no problem with slowing down my momentum and stopping here. However, what gets me is that the majority of cars that are looking to make that right hand turn, hardly ever use that turn signal to signal their intent. So, more often than not... i stop, scope the scene... all the cars are traveling in a forward movement, cool...no turn signals from them... sweet... i'm good to go, and then bam... a car has to slam on their brakes cause they are about to run me over.

    So, in regards to #13 PDX Mark's comment "Or just stop at the sign and the bike-bike and bike-car conflicts cease"...all the stop signs in all the world aren't going to mean a hill of beans if a driver isn't looking out for me and following their rules too.

    I've been in one big bike accident, (almost two) and each time, it was because the driver failed to pay attention and follow their rules. I have no problem sharing the road, I just wish everyone would play the same game.

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  • Kernal Loose Nut October 2, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Tim,

    i am not out of shape, i ride a lot of miles everyday, often with loaded trailer

    Not angry, either, just because i think 80% of the stop signs in in Portland do a disservice to the growing bike traffic.

    i am saddened by the acceptance of the status quo that i hear in your and others posting. The status quo sucks, ask Keren Holtz's (and how many others?) family. Keren was in a bike lane on a Sunday afternoon.

    Portland is awesome because all the riders here! But right now PDOT is still trying to impose a car created traffic system on the bicycle and i see it as a travesty because the bicycle is a far superior mode deserving of priority in right-of-way, and deserving of the safety in parallel/separated travelways.

    Cars are helping kill the planet and fueling (so to speak) the war.

    Tim, do you fully stop at EVERY stop sign?

    Many cyclist risk citation because common sense says they can safely conserve their self-built inertia, others give blind obedience to inept law.

    i believe new ways of thinking are required to meet Portland's changing transportation needs. We could start by legislating a Bike Yield Law, meaning that Stop signs (that were created by auto traffic) act as Yield signs to cyclist.

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  • dgc October 2, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    peejay says,

    "What exactly is your idea about getting the clueless dicks to obey certain traffic laws that they clearly have no intention in obeying?"

    I support police action, even though I do not like it any more than anyone else. Why? Because that's the very flawed system we have in place now. I would far prefer that people would not sear their conscience (and thus become "clueless dicks"), and act with integrity when obeying "certain traffic laws."

    As a society living in Oregon, we have a system in place to change outdated or stupid laws. Why not begin a petition drive and get a ballot measure out to the voters just like Bill Sizemore does every 30 days or so? If you write it right, I'll sign the petition and vote "yes."

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  • Tim October 2, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I do stop at every stop sign...completely and put my foot down.

    Portland's troubles with bike lanes is not because PDOT thinks in terms of cars but rather they think that the average cyclists is incapable of learning a few basic skills. Ask Mia Burk...she will tell you that.

    The bike lanes that go all the way to the intersection is exactly the opposite of what a traffic engineer would design for an automobile. They only do that in an effort to get the most incompetent boob to ride their bike knowing that scanning, signaling and taking the lane at an intersection is something that most people will never take the time to learn how to do.

    I disagree with that statement but I hardly think that PDOT's problem is that they try to make bikes fit into a car system.....I think people are dead because of just the opposite.

    Ever been driving a car and found yourself in a straight thru lane on the right side of a possible right turn lane? Of course not.

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  • Kernal Loose Nut October 7, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Ever ridden in a bike lane and gotten doored or had to swerve into traffic to avoid such? Of course.

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